Kazakhstan Launches Sputnik V Vaccination Campaign

A coronavirus vaccination campaign will kick off in Kazakhstan on Monday. At first, the country will use the Sputnik V vaccine made in Russia and will shift to the domestically produced Sputnik V vaccine in mid-February, TASS reports.

The production of the Sputnik V vaccine began in the Kazakh city of Karaganda in late December. According to the country’s Health Minister Marat Shoranov, two mln doses of the vaccine will be produced in Karaganda by July.

At the first stage of the vaccination campaign, health workers, teachers, police officers and people with chronic diseases will get vaccine shots. Vaccination will be voluntary and free for all of the country’s citizens. A mass vaccination campaign will begin in April or May. Meanwhile, Kazakhstan’s QazCovid-In vaccine is going through the third phase of clinical trials.

The Kazakh authorities expect that the vaccination will help improve the coronavirus situation in the country, which deteriorated over the past two months.

A state of coronavirus emergency was in effect in Kazakhstan between March 16 and May 11, 2020. Due to a rise in infections, the country’s authorities introduced a number of additional quarantine restrictions on July 5. The gradual easing of restrictions began on August 17. However, restrictions were tightened in the cities of Nur-Sultan and Almaty in mid-October, as well as in some other regions of the country.

Kazakhstan has so far confirmed 186,711 coronavirus cases, 167,914 recoveries and 2,549 deaths. On August 1, the Kazakh Health Ministry changed its method for counting coronavirus cases. Apart from confirmed COVID-19 patients, the data now includes patients diagnosed with pneumonia who test negative for the coronavirus but have symptoms similar to COVID-19. As many as 47,858 such cases and 569 deaths were recorded in the country as of January 31.